« PreviousContinue »
Again, this confinement implies the removal of the numberless secret objections that arise in the human heart against the truth. “ If our “ gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; “ in whom the god of this world hath blinded “ the minds of them who believe not, left the “ light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is " the image of God, should shine unto them.” Farther, this restraint implies, that the church shall be free from those persecutions she experi. enced more or less in every former period. The Devil “ was a murderer from the beginning," and in all the perfecutions of the church, had the chief, though invisible hand; his confinement therefore secures her peace.
The Resurrection and Reign of the Martyrs.
ANOTHER character of the Millennium is, the resurrection and reign of the Martyrs. “ And “ I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judg“ment was given unto them; and I saw the “ fouls of them that were beheaded for the “ witness of Jcfus, and for the word of God, « and which had not worshipped the beast, neiçs ther his image, neither had received his mark
“ upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and - they lived and reigned with Christ a thou6 fand years. But the rest of the dead lived “ not again, until the thousand years were fi“ nilhed. This is the first resurrection. Blefs sed and holy is he that hath part in the first “ resurrection; on such the second death hath « no power, but they shall be priests of God 6 and of Christ, and Mall reign with himą, « thousand years;" Rev. xx. 4, 5, 6.
Few passages of facred writ have occasioned such various opinions and warm contests as this. However, the controversy may be reduced to this question, Is the first resurrection to be taken in a literal or figurative sense ?
Among those who contend for a literal resurrection, different opinions have obtained respecting the manner of it. It were uncandid to confound them in the mass together, and charge some with the absurdities maintained by others. Cerinthus, who was contemporary with the Apostle John, maintained that the Millennium would be employed in nuptial entertainments and carnal delights..
His opinions were revived in the beginning of the third century, and propagated at Rome by one Poculus, a Montanist. The same fentiments were propagated, about the middle of the third century, by Nepos, an Egyptian Bi.
shop, who published a treatise, entitled, A Confutation of the Allegorists; in which he ridicules the opinion of those who were for explain. ing the Millennium in a figurative sense. Dionyfius, Bishop of Alexandria, undertook to give a formal answer to his treatise, in two books concerning the promises'.
Many of the fathers, who deemed Cerinthus a heretic, explained the first resurrection in a literal sense. They were of opinion, " That all the faints shall arise from the dead a thousand years before the general resurrection, and live in Jerufalem, new-built and adorned, together with Christ, who shall personally reside there; and that they shall enjoy all the lawful pleasures of this earth, where plenty shall then abound.” This was the opinion of Ireneus, Juf. tin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, and others. It would appear this opinion originated from Papias, who pretended, that it was received by tradition from the Apostle John. But Eusebi. us says of this Papius, that “ he was a man of flender judgment;" and if the tradition preser. ved by Ireneus be inspected, it will fufficiently justify that charge.
Part of the tradition is as follows: “ The days shall come in which there shall be vines, which shall severally have ten thousand branches;
and (1) Eufeb. Eccl. Hift, lib. vii. c. 1. 24, 25.
and each of these branches shall have ten thoufand lesser branches; and each of these lesser branches shall have ten thousand twigs ; and each of these twigs shall have ten thousand clusters of grapes, and in every one of these clusters shall be ten thousand grapes; and every one of these grapes being pressed, shall give twenty-five metretas (that is, according to the mildest computation, 275 gallons) of wine ; and when one shall take hold of one of these facred bunches, another shall cry out, I am a better bunch, take.me, and by me bless the Lord.” Can any man be fo bereft of sense, as to imagine this stuff could ever come out of the mouth of an Apostle'?
A third opinion on this subject is that of Mede, in which he is followed by Daubuze, Bishop Newton, and the most sensible part of the modern Millenniarians. He supposes the great day of judgment to continue a thousand years; that in the morning of that day, or at the beginning of the thousand years, the martyrs shall arise from the dead, and, continue on earth, till the evening of the great day, which concludes with the general resurrection of all the dead. This opinion differs in several respects from that of the Fathers. It supposes, that martyrs only rise from the dead in the first re
(1) Whitby in his Treatise on the True Millconiuin.
surrection, not all saints: That the whole earth shall be poffessed by them; not Jerusalem and the land of Judea only : That Christ shall not personally dwell on earch: That the saints shall be occupied in spiritual, not sensual delights'. Bishop Burnet held an opinion different from all these, in which I presume he has had few followers. He supposes that the Millennium follows the general judgment, when this earth, new modelled by the conflagration, accompanying that awful event, shall be the habitation of the saints for a thousand years. But as the Scrip. tures represent Gog and Magog compafling the camp of the saints and the beloved city, at the end of these thousand years, he is much at a loss to account for the introduction of those inhabitants into his new earth. As all the wicked were destroyed by the general judgment, he supposes them to be generated from the mud or slime of the earth, as brute creatures were ori. ginally. But this supposition, withe very intel. ligent reader, must sink his opinion in the mud.
Another opinion on this subject, is that of Pifcator, who allows a literal resurrection of the martyrs a thousand years before the general
(1) Sce Mede's Apocalyptic Key, Daubuze on the Apocalypse, Newton's Disertations on Prophecies. It would appear Augustine held an opinion similar to this, but he afterwards renounced it as a heresy .